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SERMON LXXXVI.

PREACHED AT A CONFIRMATION.

THE SIN AND DANGER OF GRIEVING THE

HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD.

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GRIEVE NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD, WHEREBY YE ARE

SEALED UNTO THE DAY OF REDEMPTION.

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EFORE I enter
upon

, I endeavour to satisfy you, that notwithstanding the good purposes you have this day made, and notwithstanding the good prayers which are offered up to God on your behalf, there is yet a greater possibility of your

mifcarrying than you are aware of.

The reason why I observe this to you, is because I know the frailty of human nature better than you can be supposed to do.

When a person is made sensible of his duty to God, and that it is truly his interest to serve him faithfully, and that there is great uneasiness and danger in the ways of vice and impiety; while these thoughts are warm in his heart, he is apt to be very confident that he, for his part, shall never run into that wickedness which others fall into, and by which they are ruined.

wickedness

And if I should take any of you, (who have this day been confirmed in your holy purposes of obedience) if I should call you aside, and give you this advice:-“ Pray have a care left you « fall into the sins of drunkenness, or whore“ dom, which are but too common amongst

us; have a care of lying or swearing, or

stealing, which will certainly shut you out " of heaven;” it is very probable these would be your thoughts and your answer:-- I am fully resolved against all such great crimes; I have no manner of inclination to drink too much; I know not what it is to be unchaste; but this I know, that it is better to marry • than be subject to the torments of lust; I am

so far from the danger of swearing, that I 'am uneasy when I hear others swear; and · for lying, and stealing, I wonder that any

body should fear that I could ever be guilty (of such crimes.'

Now you must know, that this is the confidence of unexperienced Christians; for those that know themselves better, know, that there is nothing more deceitful than the heart of man, and that in time, if we give way to our defires, we shall love those very things which now we abhor, and do those wickednesses which at present we had rather suffer death than be guilty of.

And

And that
you may

be satisfied that this is very true, I will give you two instances out of the holy scriptures, one out of the Old, and another out of the New Testament, which may convince you, that no man ought to be confident of himself, what he will be, and what he will do; but that it will become the very wisest and the best of us, to be very careful of our ways, and to look up to God for help, by whose spirit alone those that are not as wicked as their neighbours are preserved from being so; and if we do not take care of ourselves, and beg of God to take us under his guidance and blessing, we may too likely fall into those very sins to which at present we have no manner of inclination.

When Elijah told Hazael, that he should do very severe things to Israel, that he would burn their cities, dash their children, and rip up their women with child;" Hazael was at that time so far from such thoughts, that he asks, What, am I a dog, that I should do this? And yet, in process of time, he did this, and became one of the greatest scourges that Israel had.

St. Peter had, perhaps, as much natural courage as most men, as appears by his behaviour in the garden; and he had positively given his master his word, If I pould die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise; and yet within twelve hours after, he swears he knows

• 2 Kings viii. 12. VOL. IV,

him

him not. What account can be given of this? Why, this was the cause of such a strange alteration in the apostle: he trusted to his own strength, and God for that time left him to himself, and you see what followed.

And so it will ever be, when God, for our fins, leaves us to ourselves. There is not the vilest thing we now abhor, nor the basest vice which we may not be guilty of, if ever the Spirit of God gives us up to the government of our own wills.

And now you see, that notwithstanding the good purposes and resolutions you have this day made, and the prayers that have been offered

up

for you, it is necessary that you should be put in mind of the danger you are in, if, by any wilful continuing in known fin, you grieve the Holy Spirit of God, and force him to leave you to yourselves.

To come, therefore, to the words of the text, and to the apostle's advice,-Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

The plain meaning of these words is this: God has given you the earnest of his Spirit into your hearts, by which you have been taught your duty, by which you have inclinations to perform it, and by which, if you persevere, you will be secured against all dangers, and under all temptations, till you come to heaven, where all dangers will be over.

But

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But take great care that you grieve not this Holy Spirit, and force him, by any great wickedness, or by continuing in a wilful course of fin, to leave you to yourself, and to the power

of the devil; for if you do this, you are undone for ever; if the Holy Spirit takes off his seal, the devil marks you for himself, and for eternal misery.

And this is literally true, and may be justly said to all you who have this day been confirmed.

God, whose good blessing goes along with the wholesome methods of his church, has given you such a proportion of his Spirit, as will for the present fecure you from danger, and will, as you go on to make use of these measures of

grace, still give you greater, till you come to heaven.

Take good heed, therefore, that you do not abuse this great blessing, by making yourselves unfit for the Spirit of God to dwell in your hearts; for if you continue to grieve the Holy Spirit, he will at last leave you; and when you are left by God, it is not in the power of all the world besides to make

you amends for such a loss.

But that you may be more sensible of this, I will lay before you these following things to be seriously considered by you:

Ift. What your condition is, while you continue under the government and protection of God's Holy Spirit.

2dly. What

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